111. Deputy Mick Wallace asked the Minister for Justice and Equality the progress that has been made to date as regards filling the post vacated by the former chairperson of the Garda Síochána Ombudsman Commission in January 2015; the process she is following for this appointment; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [19526/15]
Deputy Frances Fitzgerald: The Deputy will be aware that on 15 May, my Department placed an advertisement seeking expressions of interest from suitably qualified individuals for appointment as chairperson of the Garda Síochána Ombudsman Commission. The advertisement can be viewed on the Department's website and the website of the Public Appointments Service. The closing date for the receipt of expressions of interest is 29 May. Selection for consideration will be based on an examination of expressions of interest received. I will establish an independent panel to advise me on which applicants are best qualified, following which I will present suitable names for consideration by Government. Under the Garda Síochána Act 2005, the Government must be satisfied that a person nominated for this position has the appropriate experience, qualifications, training or expertise for appointment, having regard to the functions of GSOC. As the Deputy is be aware, under the Act the nomination is also subject to the passage of resolutions by Dáil Éireann and Seanad Éireann recommending the appointment. The appointment is then made by the President.
I should point out that the Act provides for a situation where a member of GSOC has resigned his or her position and permits GSOC to act notwithstanding the vacancy, as the Deputy knows. The person who will be appointed as chairperson of GSOC will, under the Act, serve out Mr. O'Brien's term of office, which will expire on 12 December 2016. More generally, it is vital that the public has confidence in the Garda Síochána and the system of oversight, as I have often said. We are implementing a comprehensive programme of reform in the areas of policing and justice. As part of the programme of change, the Garda Síochána (Amendment) Act 2015, which is fully in force, strengthens and clarifies the remit and capacity of GSOC, and I will keep under review the case for further change.